‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ May Be Saving the Islands of Hawaii

There are certain locales that thrive because of film and television. Hollywood is so pervasive that the location is used as a stand-in reference for the whole American entertainment industry. There are plenty of other cities across the globe with economies and public images largely framed around the ins and outs of entertainment studios.

There’s currently a statewide effort to make Hawai’i a hub of entertainment filming, and NCIS: Hawai’i is helping to make it happen.  

CBS is filming ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ on location 

the NCIS hawaii cast stands on the beach
‘NCIS: HAWAIʹI’ kicked off its first season production at Mokulē‘ia Beach on Oahu with a traditional Hawaiian blessing in honor of its host Hawaiian culture. | Karen Neal/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Not every show set in an exotic — or even not-so-exotic — locale is filmed on location. In fact, because of the convenience of using already existing sets and the plethora of industry workers able to serve as crew, many shows are filmed in the few established studios regardless of their setting

The NCIS franchise has a history of filming on location, and that makes sense given that the locale is often a defining characteristic of the series itself — it’s in the title, after all! The very first series, however, was shot in Southern California despite being set in Washington, D.C. Since the series’ considerable success, the spinoffs have gotten on-location treatment. The short-lived NCIS: New Orleans was filmed on location, and CBS announced that NCIS: Hawai’i would be as well

This decision was made even easier by the fact that CBS had already established filming protocol in the Aloha State. Hawaii Five-O was a CBS drama filmed on location throughout it’s ten-season run. When the series concluded in 2020, it left CBS with the foundation in place for more work in Hawai’i. 

A statewide initiative hopes to bring more filming to Hawai’i

There’s no place quite like Hawai’i, and the state understands that it has a particular allure for filmmakers. As Hawaii Business reports, a legislative act passed in 2006 “expanded financial incentives to lure big-budget productions.” These efforts have had a tremendous impact on the state’s economy, “accounting for about 54,071 jobs in 2019, or 6.1% of all civilian positions.” 

These efforts have led to more homegrown Hawaiian creatives being able to work on their projects without leaving the state, and it also brings in out-of-state productions that provide jobs in the industry for locals. While the location’s entertainment industry is growing, it’s still far less competitive than those located on the mainland: “A small part in L.A. is going to have thousands of people submitting who already have credits.” In Hawai’i, however, the parts are far easier for entry-level breakthroughs. 

What we know about ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’

Fans are happily anticipating the premiere of NCIS: Hawai’i, and they shouldn’t have to wait too much longer. While the exact date is not yet known, it’s expected that Season 1 will start sometime in Fall 2021, likely directly following NCIS in CBS’ lineup. 

As CBR reports, the series is making waves for its commitment to bringing on a female-led cast. Jane Tennant (played by Vanessa Lachey) will head up the team and portray a working mother trying to balance her career with her children. Other casting decisions that have been revealed include Noah Mills as Jessie — a big city detective who has recently relocated — and Yasmine Al-Bustami as Lucy, the junior member of the investigative team. 

We can expect to see plenty of the franchise’s signature use of investigative drama as military personnel’s matters and national security take center stage in the crimes. At the same time, the private lives of the characters will help drive the story, tying the episodes together into a narrative arc that will keep fans tuning in. 

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